Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Reefert Church

Looking thru the door into Reefert Church
I've visited a ton of monastic ruins on my two visits to Ireland. They're all special, but this tiny church tucked away near the Upper Lake at Glendalough is the ruin that has most touched my heart. Reefert Church was probably built in either the 10th or 11th century on the site of an earlier wood or wattle and daub church. It's the oldest church in this area.
The church was known in the region as The Princes's Church as according to tradition, it is the burial site of seven kings of the O'Toole family. The O'Tooles held power in this area from the 12th to the 16th century. There are many grave markers all around the church.
View from the small window over the altar area.
Reefert Church is considered to be the likely site of St. Kevin's tomb. His hermitage is nearby...a beehive cell for meditation and along the Upper Lake, a cave in which he spent time in solitude. As the founding hermit of this beautiful place, he obviously needed time away from the many monks who followed him here to learn from him and share his ascetic life.

This side of the valley never saw the sun during the Irish winter. It must have been a joy to Kevin to be here in the spring and pray looking out the altar window when the sun finally shone and the trees turned leafy green.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Checking In from Galway

The River Corrib
I arrived in Galway City last evening around 9PM....in a driving horizontal rain! Luckily, the weather is much better this morning. No swans drifting on a lazy River Corrib today, though.  The river is in full spate, looking very anxious to make its way into Galway Bay.

Galway 'love 'locks'
Ireland has a lovely tradition of tying ribbons or strips of rags to trees, each offering representing a prayer. While I'm not crazy about stuff tied to bridge railings, these Galway love ribbons beat Paris' love locks anytime. And eventually they will weather away leaving space for more lovers to offer prayers of enduring commitment.

Sunday, October 1, 2017


When I visited Inis Mor in 2014 with my pilgrimage group, I promised myself I'd return to spend more time on this wind-swept rocky island that sits on the wild edge of Ireland. The island surprised me and I fell in love with it. Very out of character for me to love something barren, rocky and almost entirely without trees! I love green, trees, flowers, swift flowing rivers. But something about the 'thinness' of the place, the restless sea pounding its shores, and the almost visceral feel of ancient lives treading the rocky paths drew me in. Next week I leave for a 6-day writing retreat on this biggest of the Aran Islands. This trip has been almost 2 years in the planning, and I'm preparing with for it with a real sense of expectancy that the restless sea and the ancient stones will become my Muse and whisper just the right words in my ears.